By Taban Henry
An estimated 7.74 million people, about 62.7 percent of the population across the country are slated to face acute food insecurity during the lean season between April and July, according to the integrated latest food insecurity phase classification (IPC) analysis.
The report indicated that from the period of February to March this year, an estimated 6.83 million people of 55.3% of the population are facing (IPC phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity, of which 2.37 million people are facing emergency (IPC phase 4) acute food insecurity adding that 87,000 people are likely to be in catastrophe (IPC phase 5).
“Climatic shocks (floods and drought), conflict, economic downturn, displacement and disrupted livelihoods are driving the worsening trend in food security, identified as the cause of the acute food insecurity,” the report stated.
The most affected states are Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile, Lakes, Eastern Equatoria (Kapoeta East) and Warrap. More than 80 percent of the entire food-insecure populations are from within these states but however the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warn of immediate humanitarian assistance and livelihood to save lives and combat the collapse of livelihoods in the worst affected locations across South Sudan.
“The affected areas include Fangak, Canal/Pigi and Ayod Counties in Jonglei State, Pibor County in Greater Pibor Administrative Area; Cueibet and Rumbek North Counties in Lakes State and Leer and Mayendit Counties in Unity State where a combined total of 87,000 people are expected to be in catastrophe (IPC phase 5) acute food insecurity,” it said.
According to FAO representative Meshack Malo, the rising number of food insecure people is driven by the additional burden of heavy flooding that has occurred in the country for the last three years.
“To tackle acute hunger, we need to produce more food where it is needed most. FAO will continue to provide seeds, tools and fishing kits to people in urgent need of assistance. We also need increased investment to allow us find innovative ways to help South Sudanese farmers adapt to climate so that they can grow enough food to meet their nutritional requirements,” he mentioned.
The 2022 report shows that about 1.34 million children under five years are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition based on the results of SMART nutrition surveys, the food security and Nutrition Monitoring System (FSNMS) survey and programme admission trends.
It added that Children in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity and Western Bahr el Ghazal States are the most affected citing that prevalence of diseases such as diarrhea and inadequate feeding practices of infants and young children due to lack of dietary diversity and infrequent meals.
“As access to those in need improves due to the peace process, we have been making significant progress in treating severe malnutrition in children, but floods and other climate-related shocks leave more children vulnerable. More than 90 percent of children under five put into therapeutic feeding Programmes fully recover and yet funding for this life saving responses is increasingly a challenge,” it stresses.